Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I have some time to kill, so I think it’s finally time to explain what’s happened in the last month. Cause it’s been insane.

Alright, so you should all know I came out here for a job at CS. Obviously I’m not including full names, because when do I ever do that? I had been applying there for months, and I’d done an in-person interview in August. Was the location lovely? Yes. Did it offer full-time and benefits? Yes. Was I excited to be there? Yes.

You guys, it was a disaster. By the end of the second week, I knew I didn’t fit. You weren’t allowed to really discipline the kids, ESPECIALLY if there were parents around. I mean not even the simplest of things, like, “Don’t go down the slide head first so you don’t break your freaking neck.” If I were a parent, I’d want to know that the staff corrected that sort of stuff, but what do I know, right? 

Why weren’t we allowed to do our jobs? These were rich, rich, snobby professional parents. Their precious snowflakes (some of which were borderline evil) were perfect, and we needed to worship and respect that. That…that’s not who I am. So I got the reputation of being “harsh” to the kids. Can I be harsh? Yeah, I guess. I can lose my temper because I’m human. But it’s generally just an issue of getting to know which kids need the extra push and which don’t, and that takes time. Certainly everyone I’ve talked to has been shocked that I would ever be labeled harsh as I’m one of the gentlest people around. And you know something? The kids freaking LOVED me. So whatever I was doing, it was getting respect and love from the kids.

These weren’t the only problems. The workplace was just catty, like middle-aged women still in high school levels of catty. I was unhappy and lonely, and didn’t make a single friend in this clique-ish atmosphere until another new person was hired around Halloween. A woman as old as my parents was my only friend, and only a handful of coworkers were kind to me. I was also given demerits my first week for being five minutes late. When I hadn’t been in Virginia even two weeks and was still finding my way through the area. Yup. I don’t want to get into all the details of shittiness that happened, but I was pretty unhappy, and it was no secret.

So basically some parents decided I was too harsh (I don’t think they were even parents I KNEW or knew me), complained to the management, and that was that. Only one month in and I was given the boot. You know the worst part? They had me train my replacement.

Yeah. It was that classy.

Obviously I was upset. Right now I’m in that anger stage still. But as a whole I think this was for the best. I knew it wasn’t a good fit, they knew it, and I’m not spending nearly as much on gas. It’s a lot cheaper here than in Portland (my last fill up was just $3.06/gal), but since  my commute was an hour-long each way, I was having to fill up every week. 

I got right on applying to other jobs. The day I was fired, I applied for three other jobs. I applied to around five a day for at least four days. Nothing happened. But the saying goes it’s all about who you know, and this was true, because Hanna’s martial arts studio where he works happened to be hiring. I knew this before and had considered applying, but it wasn’t full-time, nor were there benefits. At this point, though, it didn’t matter. The day after losing my job, I was in for an awkward, blustery interview.

A week later, I was hired.

This new place isn’t perfect, naturally, but I can tell you right now that it is a hell of a lot better than CS. And I mean that fully. EVERYONE there is nice. Everyone. And if there was a problem (I actually did have a harshness issue yesterday, an issue of not knowing every child yet and their different needs), the management pulls me aside and talks to me like an adult, not chides me and makes me feel horrible. My commute is half as long as it was, and I sometimes carpool with Hanna. At CS, the part I liked best was the before-and-after school care for the older kids. I was just too worn out with the preschoolers, and here I get to work with that age group that I’m really enjoying.

Here’s the part that will knock your socks off. I’m learning Tae Kwon Do.

That’s right. The couch potato who knits and makes soap and listens to jazz is learning chun gi, round house kicks, and that you always punch with the first two knuckles and keep your wrists straight. It is HARD. I don’t want to say I like it, but I also don’t want to say I don’t like it. It’s this middling space. I think I lean on the side of liking it. I say this because it isn’t something I would naturally seek out, but that’s exactly why it’s good for me. It’s a challenge completely foreign to me, which makes the fact that I’m doing it that much more amazing. I’m a little wimpy white belt, but everyone is very patient and enthusiastic in teaching me, and I try hard.

A part of me is terrified about what is going to happen; will I have enough to live on, when am I moving out of Hanna’s parents’ place (especially that last one)? But a part of me – and not a small part, either – thinks that this was all part of the plan. This is another facet of me growing up, and certainly growing. I’m dealing with issues more or less on my own, albeit with difficulty. And I am doing things I’ve never dreamed of. Maybe this was what God wanted: for me to be out here struggling, and at the same time….learning karate….

And you know something else? The kids like me here, too. 

There are other things to take joy in. Right before getting the sack, I made a friend outside of work, one that I still have. I joined a Meetup group like I promised Kristie before leaving, and now I hang out at least once a week with a guy from there (don’t get too excited, relatives, he has a kid from a previous marriage, so I HIGHLY doubt we’re going to be getting together). He’s a native, but also a bit of a recluse like myself, so my wanting to explore my new city is a great catalyst for him to get out as well. The day we met at the Meetup group breakfast, I said, “Hey, wanna go to the art museum with me?” And here’s pictures of us at the best part. The gift shop.


I kid, though, the entire Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is AMAZING.


This is Ross. he’s a good sport for putting on the glasses.

So….maybe this was what was meant to happen all along. I really can’t pretend to know. But…I’m not unhappy. I mean, some of the time I am. I REALLY want to get my own place, I’m anxious for it, and I’m having problems here the same way I would anywhere else, including home.

…but at least for the moment, there’s a sense of peace about me. Despite the fact I met Ross at the Richmond Reason and Naturalism Association, comprised almost entirely of atheists  I’m an odd duck, and I pray all the time. What I pray for now is to live the life that God wishes for me. 

This could be that life. If I can work hard and keep faithful, that may turn out to be a great thing.


About emilydnelson

A recent graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in anthropology, Emily is like every other twenty-two year old on the planet - trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Follow as she struggles with writing, her social work job, and bopping from coast to coast.
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